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Library trustees in two counties nix regional approach / July 13, 2017

The idea of creating a regional library system to tie together Halifax and Mecklenburg counties is dead.

That was the conclusion reached by members of both county library systems at a May 31 meeting in Boydton to discuss regionalization.

Trustees of the Halifax County library system gathered on Tuesday to discuss that decision, and to enact a budget for the 2017-2018 fiscal year.

With the fiscal year already underway — it runs from July 1, 2017 through June 2018 — the county library system has $476,987 to spend on operations.

The lion’s share of the budget— $368,037 — is set aside for salaries and employee benefits. Included in that amount is an across-the-board 2 percent pay raise, and money for one more full time position.

Funding for the library budget comes from Halifax County ($195,000), the State of Virginia ($117,135), the Town of South Boston ($81,300) and the Town of Halifax ($12,410).

Additional revenues include $21,919.66 of carryover funding from the previous budget year, as well as an $8,000 grant from the Chastain Home and another $1,000 from the Friends of the Library.

Fees and fines account for nearly $20,000 more in the budget.

On the issue of regional cooperation with Mecklenburg, library board chairman Bee Espy advised that she and fellow directors Becky Donner and Judy Ward, Library Director Jay Stephens and Robert Rosenthal and County Administrator Jim Halasz traveled to Boydton on May 31 to discuss merging with the Mecklenburg system.

Also taking part in the discussion were Kim Armentrout of the Library of Virginia, as well as Boydton Interim Library Director Joyce Parcell-Greene, Branch Supervisor Cassie Boyd, Mecklenburg County Administrator Wayne Carter and several trustees and Boydton staff members.

Armentrout, said Espy, gave an overview of the process involved in regionalization and how it would impact each entity.

1. Materials would be shared, and a courier system would be set up to facilitate this.

2. All involved libraries would be required to operate under the same automated library system. (As neither library system uses the same automated system, one would be required to switch.)

3. At present, based on the State aid system, both entities would receive approximately $27,000 over and above the usual aid provided by the State of Virginia. This amount would be shared by both library systems.

4. The trend among library systems, Armentrout said, these days is away from regionalization.

Ultimately, because the Mecklenburg County Library System in 2016 discontinued its regionalization agreement with Lunenburg County, they did not seem interested in pursuing the same with Halifax County, Espy reported back.

Both systems want to be able to control their own destinies, she added.

In other business Tuesday afternoon the board approved the amended Five Year Plan which is in effect from 2017-2022.

It includes a service plan which outlines the goals and objectives for the library, an administrative and governance plan which provides goals for the leadership of the library, and the staff training and development plan which outlines opportunities for continued learning.

The promotions and public awareness plans provide goals for promoting services, programs and resources.

The library board members also approved having all proceeds received from the sale of books inside the two libraries to be awarded to the library rather than to the Friends of the Library.

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